The Life Pursuit by Belle and Sebastian

February 27th, 2006

The Life Pursuit is Belle and Sebastian’s eighth album (counting the faux-soundtrack, Storytelling and last year’s single’s and b-sides collection). It’s amazing to note how prolific they’ve been yet they’re still fairly underrated by the mainstreem. You’re more likely to hear their singles on Radio 2 than 1 and they do make some fairly odd choices for single release. The Blues are Still blue being a case in point. Possible my least favourite track on the new long-player, it’s a derivative track that does little to showcase what’s on offer on their latest disc.

The album kicks off with part one of two acts of the apostle. A strange choice for the opener which plods a bit but manages to evolve by the chorus. Track two, another sunny day, is typical jangly Belle and Sebastian. Very melodic, catchy, uplifting and one of the best on this release. A potential single but would need to be censored for bad language (the referee gives us fuck all). White collar boy is a Marc Bolan clone track – even the singing style but enjoyable nevertheless. Dress up in you is another highlight with a laid back feel to it whilst Sukie in the graveyard has a funky beat and an American football organ vibe to it.

We are the sleepyheads is a great track with a flower-power swinging london type female vocal. funny little frog and to be myself completely are the two northern soul style tracks that were first explored on Dirty Dream no.2 on the boy with the arab strap. It took me a while to get into to be myself completely as it always does with the songs sung by guitarist Stevie. However, also typical, it’s now one of my favourites. Funny little frog wont help the band get away from their twee image but it is a strong track and a joy to hear appear so far into the album. The last two tracks, for the price of a cup of tea and mornington crescent are a bit of a let down and not especially interesting. This has been the pattern on most B&S albums save for the last three amazing tracks on fold your hands.. and story telling. I have the feeling that mornington crescent could have benefited from a wider 70s style production with some more bass and echo. In fact most of the album’s production in a little too compressed for me. More breathing room would have been nice. One thing about their early productions, whilst perhaps a little underpolished, they did capture a real vibe. That said, the life pursuit is a very good album and well worth the cash. You can even get a version with a free 30 minute dvd of their recent performance on BBC Scotland for a couple of extra quid.

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